How prosecutors select suspects

19 January 2011 by Thijs Bouwknegt

Richard Goldstone, Louise Arbour and Carla Del Ponte served as prosecutors for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The two tribunals shared a prosecutor until 2003. Frederiek de Vlaming completed her dissertation at the University of Amsterdam, analysing how the three prosecutors selected their suspects, focusing mainly on the ICTY.

How did the prosecutors arrive at their selection at the ICTY?

None of the three published work outlining their prosecutorial policies, as is being done now by the ICC prosecutor. Only bits and pieces are presented sporadically, such as during the issuance of an indictment or interviews.

Goldstone, the tribunal’s first prosecutor, had to work under difficult circumstances. Because the conflict was still ongoing in the region, he was unable to do on site investigations. He depended heavily on others in terms of what was going on in the region. This influenced the way he formulated his policy and the final selection of defendants. He was given limited funds by the international community, who in turn was impatient to see results from the tribunal. While he did try to aim high, and handed out warrants for Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, the bulk of the people he indicted were at significantly lower levels.

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